Although many people from Seattle will probably consider this blasphemous (especially coming from a Seattle-native), I have discovered that my new favorite National Park is located in Utah. Though the PNW boasts numerous national parks, state parks, and other similarly gorgeous areas to explore, Zion was the top pick for me. Let me tell you why:
5 Awesome Reasons to Visit Zion
As if you need a reason, amiright?
1. There is No Traffic in Zion
Forget about the clogged roads of Yellowstone, with their 30+ minute slow-downs due to construction or stray bison. During the peak tourism season, you have one option to tour Zion: Shuttle Bus. Don’t worry, they are free! Not only does this cut down on traffic tremendously, but it allows you the opportunity to explore most of the park and meet other visitors as well. You also get a free audio tour of the park as you ride. Oh, and did I mention the shuttles are free?
2. Zion has super-exclusive flora to view
With over 900 trees, flowers, and other plants that are found exclusively in Zion, it’s hard not to feel like you stepped into another dimension. Due to the intense geological diversity of the park, trees and flowers you find in the canyon are going to be extremely different than ones you find, say, at the top of the pinnacles. Attention plant nerds: Keep your eyes peeled for some of the rarest flora in the world.
Tip: Make sure to check out the hanging gardens in Zion to view the lush foliage made possible by the saturated wetlands.(Whaaaat? Wetlands in the middle of the desert? Yep. I told you Zion was cool!)
3. Zion boasts infamous hiking trails
Chances are, you might have heard of a hike called “Angel’s Landing”. While not as dangerous as other hikes I’ve completed (Mt. Huashan, anyone?) 6 people (since ’04) have unfortunately passed away while trying to complete this hike. So be careful and mind the signs.
If you aren’t feeling like risking your life, or just don’t feel like dedicating the time needed to achieve that view, make sure you check out the Canyon Overlook Trail, located near the East entrance to Zion National Park. You can drive up to the trail head, but be mindful that parking is extremely limited, so you will most likely be forced to park along the road and walk quite a ways in.
Other great hikes include:
- Observation Point
- Hidden Canyon
- The Narrows
4. Zion has the perfect places to cool off
Despite being mostly a desert climate, there are tons of areas full of water to enjoy. Top adventures include the “Emerald Pools” hike, which is located along the river. The sandstone walls of the canyon form interesting viewpoints, one of my favorites dubbed “The subway”.
5. Zion is full of cute critters!
Catch sight of 68 different species of animals, including herds of deer, ground squirrels, foxes and bighorn sheep. I ran into a doe and her baby while climbing down Angel’s Landing, but wasn’t fast enough with my camera to capture it. Here’s a photo of someone that did:
Side note: Please, for the love of nature, stop feeding the rock squirrels and chipmunks, people. It’s a little funny to see the fat little buggers run about, but they get far too friendly with people when repeatedly fed, and can spread diseases to tourists easily! So don’t contribute to the problem, cool? Cool.
Have you visited Zion yet? What were your favorite parts? Please leave me a comment in the section below. And don’t forget to slide your email into the box on the right-side of the screen for updates!